Friday, November 09, 2012

Batch of links

- Many of the people in the path of Hurricane Sandy lost power for so long that they had to throw away all the contents of their fridge (and freezer) and stock it from scratch. Here’s what the editors at Saveur would buy to restock their fridge.

- And speaking of Sandy, it’s been pointed out to me that while one death is tragic, a million deaths are a statistic. The vast majority of news outlets did not report the names of the deceased or the circumstances of their death, which does nothing to humanize the victims. A blogger did all the hard work, though: here are the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

- A British study found that women become “perfect cooks” at age 55 (though they reach most of their culinary milestones in their 20s). If it’s true that one needs 10,000 hours of practice before mastering something, then that age might make sense. (Et comme on dit au Québec, il me reste encore des croûtes à manger!)

- A great article by Montrealer Joe Schwarcz on why he trusts science, even though it’s not always perfect.

- The Dandelion King, a timely article for us, as our lawn is invaded with weeds. The homeowners’ association does not like that, of course, and neither do we. Not to mention that our dog is allergic to our lawn! However, there’s only so much you can do with manual weeding, especially when you want to limit the amount of herbicides in your immediate environment. The author of the article comes to the same conclusion we’ve come to: “The war on weeds, though not unwinnable, isn’t winnable at a morally acceptable cost.”

- You’ve probably heard by now, but California’s Proposition 37 didn’t pass (oh well, at least we’ve got Obama for four more years). I can’t even tell you how much this disappoints me – what’s so hard about a dot of ink that tells people what’s in their food, alongside the calorie counts and whether or not it was cross-contaminated by allergens? Here’s a recap on what was at stake, along with Michael Pollan’s editorial (which I’m sorry to say I hadn’t linked to before), in which he explains that it’s less about GMOs than it is about the power of Big Food corporations. I don’t know if the fake front groups had anything to do with Prop 37 being rejected. (For those of you who didn’t hear: days before the election, voters got fliers in the mail that seemed to come from cops or the Democratic Party, advising them to vote No on Prop 37, when the Democratic Party’s official position was to endorse the proposition.) I don’t know how much the decision was influenced by dirty tricks like these, by Big Food misleading the public and far outspending grassroots supporters, how much it reflects low-information voters, and how much it means that a majority of the population genuinely did not want to know what was in their food. (I find the latter hard to believe, but it’s possible. According to this map, it would appear that major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles voted yes and more rural places voted no, somewhat like blue and red votes in Texas.) At least, a lot of awareness was raised, and the fight goes on – Washington State is next, and there is such a foodie movement in Seattle that I can’t help but think it bodes well. Hopefully, they’ll remember what the Californians learned when Prop 37 was defeated.

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